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Ken Behrens Marathon Challenge has Canberrans running in driveways, backyards during lockdown

Cath Wallis, left, and Giles Lamb, with the track in his backyard and some of the Strava maps from participants.
Cath Wallis, left, and Giles Lamb, with the track in his backyard and some of the Strava maps from participants.

Farrer mum and lawyer Cath Wallis is more used to completing ultra-marathons in the mountains or desert, so lockdown was not going to stop her from completing a long-distance challenge.

So she ran a half-marathon - 21.1km - in her driveway, which meant 264 laps up and down the concrete. Her children watched from inside, "my own little cheer squad from the window".

"There were neighbours in the street doing the gardening and we ended up having a chat at the end of each turn after they watched me go around in circles," she said, with a laugh.

The Ken Behrens Marathon Challenge was organised by Hackett public servant Giles Lamb, with about 30 people taking part last Sunday. Some people did it all at home or others used it for their hour outside and then finished it at home.

Giles did a marathon - 42.2km - around his clothesline. It took a bit over five hours. His lawn did not like it. There is a fair track there now.

Hackett public servant Giles Lamb where he ran his marathon. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Hackett public servant Giles Lamb where he ran his marathon. Picture: Keegan Carroll

"It was very slow going. You're going around the same bloody thing," he said.

"The dog thought I was an idiot."

Giles Lamb's lawn after his backyard marathon. Picture: Supplied

Giles Lamb's lawn after his backyard marathon. Picture: Supplied

People shared their their progress online, offering each other encouragement. The Strava lines at the end looked very different to usual.

Giles organised the event in the absence of park runs and long hikes or runs during lockdown, with only an hour of exercise allowed away from the house.

"I think one bloke did 50kms on his balcony," Giles said.

Cath is someone who loves being in the outdoors. The half-marathon in her driveway was a chance to chase down a goal.

"When we're not in lockdown I would spend every Sunday hiking somewhere in Namadgi or on the Centennial Trail or somewhere, so it's a big deal for me to be in the house and limited to just an hour outside each day," she said.

The strava maps of two participants. Cath's map is on the right.

The strava maps of two participants. Cath's map is on the right.

"So this was an opportunity to do something that was a little bit crazy and a little bit different but get some exercise in while completely complying to the lockdown rules.

"And I really love the idea that we could all do it on the same day and we could all post our photos as we were going along and encourage each other. So even though we were alone, we were doing it together."

And Cath was feeling pretty exhausted by the end.

"Certainly the distance was different to me, but, I tell you what, turning around every 40 metres is not easy. There's no momentum, there's nothing. It just a backwards and forwards slog on the concrete," she said.

Cath Wallis in her Farrer driveway. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Cath Wallis in her Farrer driveway. Picture: Keegan Carroll

It was a positive experience and it felt like an achievement.

"I was pretty proud of myself because I didn't realise how hard it was to literally go backwards and forwards. It's not the same as an event where you've got other competitors and volunteers and checkpoints. It's literally just slogging it up and down on your own in the driveway."

So would she do it again?

"Oh, no, definitely not. It really hurt," she said, with a laugh.

"But my general approach to life is you should always take an adventure, an opportunity when you've got it and this one just sounded like something fun to do, to create that sense of community when we're in lockdown and people feel quite isolated. "

"It was really nice to do something with other people [virtually]."

This story 264 laps: The Canberrans running half-marathons in driveways and around clotheslines first appeared on The Canberra Times.